Daytrip: Fire Island

COMMENTS: 31

travel new york daytrip  Daytrip: Fire Island
travel new york daytrip  Daytrip: Fire Island
It was my friend, Nora, who was the first to rave to us about Fire Island. She filled our heads with lovely images: a car-free, red-wagon-filled island with friendly deer, sunken forests, white sands, bike paths, and lazy days. I’ve wanted to go ever since she claimed the beaches to be her favorite. We thought this August might be our chance, but when I started looking into rentals, I fell victim to sticker-shock. Summer rentals on an island this idyllic, so close to the city, cost a pretty penny! But in the course of doing my research, I learned that a day trip–while a bit ambitious–wasn’t out of the question.
Last Saturday, after a late night of games with friends, we ambled onto the L-train in a bit of a daze around 7am, switching to the LIRR and changing trains just once. We felt like we’d found the party train; the Montauk line was filled with excited, chatty beach-goers and, fortunately, the spirit was infectious (just the caffeine-kick we needed). At Bayshore, we caught the ferry to Kismet, taking in the views of the sound as we pulled into the dock.
travel new york daytrip  Daytrip: Fire Island
travel new york daytrip  Daytrip: Fire Island
travel new york daytrip  Daytrip: Fire Island
It was a gorgeous day–nothing but sun–and we immediately felt worlds away from the city: the only thing taller than the trees appeared to be the lighthouse.

travel new york daytrip  Daytrip: Fire Island

travel new york daytrip  Daytrip: Fire Island
travel new york daytrip  Daytrip: Fire Island
travel new york daytrip  Daytrip: Fire Island
Aron had arranged bike rentals with a local named Joe the night before. Joe had told Aron that he might be playing tennis around 10 am, and so we found him at the courts near the dock, followed him back to his house, and took off with two very salty, very rusty bikes (not the one pictured)–ours until 7pm at
the bargain price of $10 a piece.
travel new york daytrip  Daytrip: Fire Island
travel new york daytrip  Daytrip: Fire Island
We spent the next few hours exploring the townships of Kismet, Saltaire, and Lonelyville–getting seriously steamy as we rode over boardwalks and through occasional sandy patches, and parking our bikes to walk down to the water from time to time.
travel new york daytrip  Daytrip: Fire Island
travel new york daytrip  Daytrip: Fire Island
travel new york daytrip  Daytrip: Fire Island
We ultimately decided to return the bikes early and so, after lunch in Kismet, we walked along the Atlantic shore to Ocean Beach.Ocean Beach appears to be the largest of the island’s townships–with its concentration of restaurants and a few small hotels. After the success of our Hudson trip, we had brought along some tips from Jauntsetter: we each had cake from Rachel’s bakery and made reservations at Matthew’s Seafood for dinner.
travel new york daytrip  Daytrip: Fire Island
travel new york daytrip  Daytrip: Fire Island
travel new york daytrip  Daytrip: Fire Island
travel new york daytrip  Daytrip: Fire Island
We could tell there was more of a “scene” in Ocean Beach and, overall, we preferred the low-key vibe of Saltaire and Kismet. However, we found that such distinctions didn’t matter much for the next few hours–which were spent napping and reading (mostly napping) on the beach.
travel new york daytrip  Daytrip: Fire Island
travel new york daytrip  Daytrip: Fire Island  travel new york daytrip  Daytrip: Fire Island
travel new york daytrip  Daytrip: Fire Island
Before dinner, we strolled a bit further, but we never made it to the Sunken Forest or Cherry Grove (places to see on our next trip). The sea grasses looked gorgeous shining in the afternoon sun, and the whole place looked just that much more amazing when deer started grazing just back from the sand.
travel new york daytrip  Daytrip: Fire Island
travel new york daytrip  Daytrip: Fire Island
travel new york daytrip  Daytrip: Fire Island
travel new york daytrip  Daytrip: Fire Island
travel new york daytrip  Daytrip: Fire Island
travel new york daytrip  Daytrip: Fire Island
We had decided to leave out of Ocean Beach on the 9:15 pm ferry so that we could watch the sun set (almost) into the water, and were happy that we did. We were seated on the dock at Matthew’s and watched the boats pulling in and out of the harbor over beers and seafood. I can’t say that we were too impressed with the food, but the setting was enough of a draw.
We hurried to catch the ferry and hurried to get off–hoping to catch the 9:51 train. We may have made it (it would have been tight), but we opted to take a  $22 direct shuttle to Manhattan instead. It dropped us a block from our apartment–perfect!
travel new york daytrip  Daytrip: Fire Island
travel new york daytrip  Daytrip: Fire Island
It seriously felt like we had gone to Florida for the day! I could barely believe that such a place was so close. I would absolutely love to return. A day trip takes a bit of stamina, but I think we both were really glad we made the effort–it definitely paid off. (And we still had Sunday to sleep-in.)
That very wise friend with the excellent beach suggestions, Nora, is marrying her longtime love Patrick this Saturday–we’re so excited to celebrate! It’s going to be fantastic.
Have a wonderful weekend, everyone.
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Let’s Discuss

  1. sounds like a great trip! i'm loving the shots you took- what camera are you using? and i haven't forgot about you, i am sending your package this weekend! xx

  2. Jeez, you two always know how to make me homesick! Looks like the perfect East Coast summer day. My best friend's family used to have a home on Fire Island, and we spent the weekend after our high school graduation there. Such a lovely place!

  3. Aw, you were in my neck of the woods! I'm walking distance from the ferry in Bay Shore. Kismet is one of the best little towns on Fire Island.

  4. I love how your photos look like they were taken with an 'old fashioned' film camera instead of digital. How do you do that?! They really have so much feeling. Glad you had a nice mini-trip. Have a great weekend!

  5. Hi, Kera–Thanks! Can't wait!
    We have a Canon Rebel T2i. The sun was so high for most of the time we were shooting–I think it really gave everything a more "hot" look.
    Brigid–I tried shooting into the light more when the sun was low; I think that might be what you're noticing. Thank you!

    Nicole–what a nice place to live!
    Vanessa–lucky; I'm going to start trying to make friends with homes there. :) Where are you living now?

  6. You have some beautiful shots, Aron! Thanks for the comment – the header photo is in Bermuda on a secluded beach. One of my favorite islands so far…Such vibrant colors.

  7. SIGH….

    Beautiful, as usual! I didn't even know about this place before I read this post, and now I want to go there IMMEDIATELY!

    HOW do you get your pictures to look like that??? Mine always look gross and grainy. Do you just innately know or did you learn somewhere?

  8. What
    a
    lovely
    day.
    Your pictures just gave me the same
    feeling I had the one time I
    visited Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard. It was such a treat for this California girl to have that
    kind of Atlantic ocean experience.

  9. WOW!!! this is amazing. Amazing photos. I felt like a was there on the ferry as well. Sunset ahhhh…

    I'm going to pass this link to my friend in Brooklyn, I think he would appreciate to know about this fairy tale island.
    Reminds me much of our recent trip to the Brijuni Island.

    Greetings from a Mexican mommy living in Europe

  10. Your daytrip looks outrageously beautiful. The photo with the deer literally took my breath away–so idyllic and perfect, like something out of a movie.
    Makes me really want to visit the East Coast.

  11. Amala–Sorry for the delay! I'm afraid I can't locate the phone number. We had actually called one of the phone numbers on this list (http://www.jauntsetter.com/posts/beachside-bike-rides-quintessential-fire-island-fun)–which might be a good resource for you–but that number said they were no longer renting bikes and told us about Joe. Joe said he usually only rents to locals, but made an exception.

    Also, we noted that when we got off the ferry, there were bikes being rented near the dock. So you should be in luck, even without calling ahead.

    Hope that helps!

  12. I just happened upon your blog post this weekend while looking for good recommendations for day trips to Fire lsland. Thanks for the lovely post. I followed your itinerary pretty closely, and had an absolutely lovely day. Hope you had a great Memorial Day weekend! Looking forward to your next posts.

    • You’ll have a great time–and you definitely do not need a car once on the island. You could drive to the ferry terminal vs taking the train, if that’s an appealing option, and park for the day. But while there is one end of the island you can reach via car, cars are not allowed most places and–I would think–would end up being a nuisance. Have fun!

  13. And if you’re going to the Pines or Cherry Grove, take the Fire Island Shooter shuttle van from Manhattan right to the ferries. Doesn’t get easier than that!

  14. Hi Ashley! Just stumbled upon your cute blog as I was searching for Fire Island pics in Pinterest, and so glad I did :) We have a similar store, whereas I grew up in Cali for years, and recently moved to NYC :) Great post – and looks like a day-trip to Fire Island is possible after all … my mom is visiting this summer & she LOVES lighthouses and would love to take her for a day trip out of the city … so no car needed, and i can get around on foot once I’m in F.I. and get back to Manhattan with ferries/shuttles? Thanks again & keep up the good work on your blog!
    Dorine

  15. Hi Ashley! Just stumbled upon your cute blog as I was searching for Fire Island pics in Pinterest, and so glad I did :) We have a similar story, whereas I grew up in Cali for years, and recently moved to NYC :) Great post – and looks like a day-trip to Fire Island is possible after all … my mom is visiting this summer & she LOVES lighthouses and would love to take her for a day trip out of the city … so no car needed, and i can get around on foot once I’m in F.I. and get back to Manhattan with ferries/shuttles? Thanks again & keep up the good work on your blog!
    Dorine

    • Ashley

      Hi Dorine, Thanks! The daytrip to Fire Island is definitely possible, but I will say that it is a bit more work than if you were to drive to the ferry or stay overnight. I’m not sure of your mom’s age, but that might be something to keep in mind. I also understand that Fire Island had a lot of damage in the Hurricane. So just a couple of factors to consider. But we loved it–it was beautiful and a lot of fun. We have also enjoyed the daytrip out to Long Island’s Northern tip a few times and you can see a lighthouse there as well. Enjoy NY! We miss it!

  16. So glad you went! I love Fire Island with all of my heart. I wish rentals were more affordable, too, but I have to tell you the few times I’ve gotten a vacation home there it has been worth every penny. I only wish your food at Matthew’s could have been more satisfying; it’s hard for me to believe that it’s been 4 years since I’ve last been. Time to update the Jauntsetter guide!

  17. Barbara

    Hi Ashley,
    This is Barbara from Italy
    I’ve just discovered this amazing post about your day trip to Fire Island and it’s exactly what I want to do next August 2014
    I wrote at the end about “a $22 shuttle to Manhattan” at the evening to leave Fire Island, I don’t understand it.. Do you mean the LIRR to Penn Station?
    I’ll be alone so I’d like to spend the whole day at Fire Island but I want to come back to Manhattan the safest way by the evening
    Any suggestion?
    Last thing, is it a walkable distance from Bay Shore to Ocean beach ?
    Thank you and I hope you might read this even if it’s 2014!
    Ciao,
    Barbara

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